Make good friends and keep them

Many years ago, in the days before I headed off to college, my father sat me down to give me advice on how to make my way in the world.

“Chia-lin,” he said, “Mommy and I have provided you with a good home and education. Now you’re going off to college and you’ll meet new people from all walks of life. When you’re there, I want you to be sure to make good friends and keep them. I’ve been watching and studying how things work here in America, and that’s how this world works. With good friends.”

My 18-year-old self really had no clue what Dad was talking about. However, over the years his words have come back to me over and over again, guiding me, challenging me and becoming clearer and clearer in their meaning.

I have watched my parents create and nurture community over the years. From helping to create a credit union that helped fellow Taiwanese with their financial needs, to monthly dinners with friends, to offering advice or comfort to ones in need – my parents have been making good friends for many years. Good friends they’ve managed to keep in a multitude of ways. Now in the Golden Years of their life they have an amazing group of friends to champion them, laugh with them, cry or celebrate with them.

It’s easy in a world full of terms like “networking,” “social networks,” and “relationship management” to lose track of the true value of friendships and connections in this world. Apparently, all these networks have great value in an economic sense. And that’s just lovely, but that’s not what I want to drive the way I create relationships.

Let’s not forget this simple truth — the good friends are the ones who can be there on your journey with you. They’ll help you make it through that job transition, that life milestone or those personal moments of triumph or crisis. The good friends are the ones who can truly champion you, see you for who you are and still love you regardless.

So yes, go forth and make good friends. Create meaningful relationships and nurture them. Because, as my wise Father said so many years ago, and lives so now, that’s the way the world works.

Still learning from my Dad,
Carolyn

Carolyn Ou

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Throw your name into the hat!

Martyrs, Chicago IL

Martyrs, Chicago IL

The other night, I attended my first Moth Story Slam ever.  You might have heard about it – it’s an opportunity for a person to have their name randomly drawn for the opportunity to go up to the mike and tell a story for 5 minutes. The story must relate to the theme for the night, and you have to tell it without notes…oh, and three groups of judges will rate your performance….and then there’s the audience!

At first, I was going to do my typical thing, just observe for the night, learn how it works, study the event as if it were my prey so that next time, I would be fully prepared. However that night, I brought my “what the hell” attitude with me, so I threw my name into the hat.

“If they call on me, I can do this,” I thought.”And if they don’t call on me, they will next time.” However, it was my birthday present, so I told my husband, “They’re going to call on me. After all, it’s my birthday!”

And of course they called my name. Not to tell the full 5-minute story, but to speak the first line of my story, which I hurriedly rewrote in my head as I went up to the mike. (My original first line needed the rest of the story for context! It was not so interesting without! Hmmm, maybe I need to learn about storytelling before I do this! Darn those voices in my head!)

The moments before I went up to the mike were the most heart-pounding, exhilarating, deliciously scary moments I’ve had in a while. I was totally out of my element, and it felt great!

What I got out of this experience is that I have stories that I want to tell, loudly, boldly, with humor, with pathos. So I’m going to go back again and again, and throw my name in the hat over and over, until I have my 5 minutes. My 10 minutes. My many minutes.

I’d like you to consider the possibility of throwing your own name into a hat yourself. It could be a small hat or an enormous one. A hat you’ve been eyeing for some time, or one that just happened to present itself to you, much like the Moth Story Slam did to me.

If you were to just throw your name in, what would be possible for you?

Here in the big hat with ya,

Carolyn